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Healthcare copywriters play a hugely important role in providing readers with accurate medical information as well as empathy and support. Here are 5 of our best tips to make your healthcare copy even more effective.
Healthcare is personal. It relies on strong relationships between patient and provider and requires a deep sense of trust and empathy to be truly successful.
These traits carry over into healthcare copywriting as well. It used to be that healthcare organisations functioned more as information outlets. Their purpose was to relay information, rather than to be engaging and conversational . But now, the communication (and really the entire structure) of the healthcare-patient relationship has changed, and marketers for these organisations have had to adapt their methods.
Today’s healthcare copywriting is more centered around developing a feeling of trust and rapport with patients before they even walk through your doors. It’s about giving them the information they’re looking for rather than just the information you want to share.
One thing about healthcare copywriting, however, has not changed — and that’s the importance of it.
It cannot be understated that healthcare copywriters share vital information with their audience. Whether it’s raising awareness about how to keep healthy, keeping an eye out for important symptoms or what steps to take in caring for a loved one — the information you’re creating has a vital impact on the lives of your audience.
So how do you ensure your healthcare copywriting is connecting with patients and still achieving its informative purpose? How do you build trust with your audience and make your organisation their go-to for advice?
We’re sharing our top 5 tips to help you communicate both effectively and compassionately with healthcare consumers:
Be a listener first
This is true of copywriting in any industry, but it’s of the utmost importance when it comes to writing valuable healthcare copy. Being a good copywriter is important, yes— but being a good listener is how you get there!
The needs of patients have changed drastically over the last decade, as has the way information is consumed. Along with consumers in thousands of other industries, healthcare consumers now have the ability to seek out health information online.
This is an empowering change for the consumer, as they can now take a larger role in managing their own healthcare (which has actually shown to be a factor in better health outcomes)!
It also provides a great opportunity for healthcare marketers and copywriters to identify what kind of questions or concerns healthcare consumers are asking (especially via social media and keyword research). Taking the time to understand what your audience is searching for and asking about online will help direct the content you should create. In short, demand should rule your content calendar, not internal objectives.
Is there something timely going around that your audience needs more information about? Are people looking for information around how to care for a certain illness, injury or disease? Do people want to know more about a new vaccine or what they should do to care for themselves after leaving your facility?
Performing keyword research and doing some social listening will help you find the answers to these questions. You can also ask providers and other internal employees what they’re noticing is top-of-mind for patients.
Find the intersection of sensitivity and conciseness
Healthcare copywriters have a difficult job in that you're often writing about very sensitive information. In the lives of your audience, your subject matter could be extremely emotional or triggering. Pair this with the fact that there’s usually a lot of scientific information to cover about each particular topic and it can be extremely tough to find a balance between sensitivity and conciseness. But finding that intersection is where great healthcare copywriting is born.
So how can you achieve both?
First, look at all of the information at hand. While you can’t afford to be vague, you can look for opportunities to simplify. Is there anywhere you can cut extraneous information the average reader would not understand? Can you insert a chart, graph or infographic to replace a certain complex topic? Is all of your language in the simplest possible form?
Making sure you have all of the pertinent information included (in the most easy to understand way) will leave you with more room to empathise with your reader and include space for connection.
Next, don’t underestimate the power of acknowledging and validating your readers emotions. This shows your audience that you understand the impact of what you’re writing and not just the content itself. This will help instill trust, which we’ll discuss next.
Trust is one of the most important goals to have in mind in healthcare copywriting. But building trust with your reader is more complicated than just sharing reliable information.
In today’s online landscape, healthcare consumers have an expectation that their providers are going to be both engaged and interactive with their audience. The internet has allowed healthcare consumers to seek reviews and conduct research to make better informed decisions about their care.
In order to stay relevant, providers not only have to continually distribute content that their audience is asking for, but they also have to gather positive reviews, respond to negative reviews and make engagement easier for the consumer.
Doing so will allow you to build trust in your brand and in-turn, gain loyal customers. In fact, displaying reviews in your content can help increase conversions by a surprising 270%.
You also need to position your brand as the expert in your subject matter.
With the unavoidably high possibility of stumbling on false information online, consumers are wary of what they read in general— but especially when it concerns their health.
In order to instill trust, establish clear authority on each subject you write about and back it up with the research you’ve carried out. If your organisation has won awards or been nationally or internationally recognized in a certain area, be sure to include that information.
Check your tone
While your organisation might be the ultimate authority on a certain condition, disease or treatment, it’s important for your copy to carefully avoid ‘preaching’ to the reader. Ultimately, you want to be a partner for a patient. Your advice should be convincing, but be very careful about coming off as patronizing or judgmental.
Here’s a tip for how to avoid using this type of tone. If you’re writing about something and feel very strongly that one certain way is the best way forward — pause. Picture your reader who may be very informed about your topic, and then consider all the various reasons they may be considering alternative treatment or different providers. This will help you to create more space for empathy and understanding in your writing and avoid having your message come across as overbearing.
Again, sensitivity can go a long way!
Hope is an incredibly powerful force when it comes to overcoming life's challenges. And when it comes to health, it’s been proven that the mere feeling of hope can actually reduce pain and improve physiological processes.
So what better to include in your healthcare copywriting to help your readers feel more at ease?
One of the best ways to communicate hope to your audience is by using real and personal stories from patients and providers. As we said, healthcare is personal. Having relevant information is one thing — but having someone’s personal experience helps connect the reader on a much higher level.
Your audience wants to see someone who is in their position and has come out positively on the other side. They want to see an invested provider who has had an incredible outcome. They want to be able to put themselves in the shoes of a patient and have hope that their story can be the same.
Because of their relatability, case studies and testimonials are thought to be one of the most effective tools for healthcare content marketing. They’re an extremely powerful way to communicate to your audience that it’s not just your word they should be considering, but the word of other consumers or patients as well.
Give yourself credit
Take heart. While what you’re doing isn’t easy, it’s incredibly important. Becoming an effective and empathetic healthcare copywriter helps support your organisation and improve the lives of patients at the same time, and that is something to celebrate!
We understand that being a place that people turn to for comfort or information in a time of personal crisis is a big responsibility, but following the guidelines above will help you shape your content into a soft, comforting, and informative place to land.
If you’re looking for a partner who can help you create content that connects, you can learn more about Scribly here.